Following the decision by the Federal Government to ratify African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), a renowned economist, Akinrinde Ibukunoluwa Jeremiah, who is the Technical Anchor, Trade, Investment & Competitiveness Policy Commission (TICPC), Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), has charged the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and other organised private sector (OPS) to focus on developing a competitive domestic industry. He said a competitive industry would in turn address market fragility, expand market opportunities, enable private initiatives and cultivate a dynamic economy.
Jeremiah noted that increased exposure to global markets implicitly meant increased possibilities of unfair and injurious trading practices. The NESG chieftain, therefore, urged the private sector group to shift their attention away from asking government to provide enabling business environment but adequately look inwards on how they can reposition strategically for dominant merchandise and service trade. According to him, it is very fundamental to note at the start that trade alone does not lead to growth, job creation and development, adding that rapid private sector-led growth is vital for driving development, boosting shared prosperity and ending extreme poverty.
He said: “In the present integrated world, the competitiveness of the industries in any economy determines how much potential access can be converted to opportunities for individuals, businesses, and corporations. “This topic helps to explore the potential for new economic opportunities that economic integration offers, while harnessing global economic forces as means to drive market efficiency, innovation and increased productivity in the Nigerian economy.
“There is a potential for increased market size for domestic firms (and the potential of deeper value chains) and there are prospects for increased productivity occasioned by exposure to international competition, expertise and technology. “Competitive trade ensures that Nigeria can achieve rapid and broad-based economic growth by fostering strong contribution from the Nigerian private sector.
“A focus on developing a competitive domestic industry will in turn address market fragility, expand market opportunities, enable private initiatives, and cultivate a dynamic economy. “Increased exposure to global markets implicitly means increased possibilities of unfair and injurious trading practices; if both the private sector and the public sector are slack at what they should do.” On the other hand, Jeremiah explained that the setting-up of trade remedies and dispute settlement safeguards, is to create a system for protecting the Nigerian economy from injurious and unfair trading practices (dumping, injurious subsidies, safeguards and smuggling) from foreign companies and countries.
He emphatically stressed that improving competitiveness in the private sector will boost volume and value of trade, enhance investment climate, foster innovation and entrepreneurship. “The trade facilitation that the Nigerian manufacturers deserve should be one that expedites the movement, release, and clearance of goods, including goods in transit.
“This arrangement should be one that promote and ensure strict adherence to standards, health, and safety regulations by logistics, trucking, and shipping companies. “However, Nigeria is neither in the room as a state-party negotiating this rules-based safeguards needed to defend our collective interests; neither is the private-sector nor the public-sector adequately expediting competitiveness/ readiness priorities.